While one alderman claimed that he could create a new website for the city of Vandalia at little cost and in a timely fashion, other city council members opposed creating the new site in-house.
So, after a lengthy discussion, the Vandalia City Council voted 7-1 to hire an outside firm to do the work.
The city will pay McDaniels Interactive of Pekin $17,300 to create a new website, something that the city’s executive secretary, LaTisha Paslay, has been discussed for about a year.
The process of selecting a company to build the website, Paslay said, was started about 3½ months ago, with a website committee doing the preliminary work.
McDaniels was one of three firms submitted a bid to do the website work, the others being Kansas-based CivicPlus and Computer Sharks, a local computer business owned by Alderman Ken Hubler.
Hubler withdrew his bid upon being elected to a council seat in Ward I this spring.
Hubler, who was attending his second meeting as a Ward I alderman on Monday, cast the lone dissenting vote on hiring McDaniels.
Hubler said that he would like to see the new city website created in-house, and that he has volunteered to do the work.
“I ran for alderman to help the city of Vandalia,” he said, adding that he could create a site for $300.
But two aldermen, Jerry Swarm and Dorothy Crawford, said they believe the city would be better off to hire someone for the work.
“I’m not in favor of in-house building, because if that person leaves that’s doing the building, we’re sunk,” Swarm said.
And, he said, if someone serving on the council is doing it and “quits or gets beat (at election), we’re going to be right back where we started from.”
Swarm also asked Hubler why he doesn’t have a website for his business. “If you don’t have a website for yourself, how are you going to take the time to build one for us.”
Hubler said that he “doesn’t need it; it’s more problems for me.”
Crawford said that she had earlier offered to create the website, and learned of several issues, including problems that could arise once she is no longer serving as an alderman.
Crawford also told Hubler that if “we do it in-house, we have much more stringent laws we have to adhere to.”
Crawford said she doesn’t want to spend the money and see a lot of time taken to create the new website, but at this point, the city would be better off hiring someone to do the work.
Hubler persisted, saying, “I think the taxpayer would rather see that money go somewhere else.
“I can show you home pages that I built watching Cardinals games,” he said.
City Clerk Peggy Bowen also told Hubler that the Illinois Municipal League “advised us not to do it in-house.”
Ryan Connor of the city’s legal counsel, Burnside, Johnston, Connor and Jensen, confirmed that, saying that outsourcing the website can help alleviate potential problems meeting compliance with state laws on what is posted online.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council gave its OK to rent the house at 119 E. Jackson St., on property that the city recently purchased for future expansion of its water treatment plan.
Mayor Rick Gottman said that the city will charge rent of $650 per month, and that the occupant will be responsible for paying all utilities and taking care of any repairs.
• The city approved the transfer of seven new lots created at Vandalia Lake to Ryan Rikoric of Granite City, Britney Martin of Collinsville, Ty Knebel of Vandalia, Justin Manley of Vandalia, Kent Manley of Ramsey, Fred Bauerle of Ramsey, and Susan Bauerle of Ramsey.
• The council approved a recommendation from the city’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee to award a grant of up to $15,000 to David King, owner of Cages.
King plans to use the TIF grant to help pay for a 10-foot-by-40-foot addition to the south side of his bar. The estimated cost for the project is $33,262.
• The council observed a moment of silence for former Vandalia businessman “Cotton” Wehrle.
• The council voted to pay Hurst-Roche Engineers $3,500 for the required inspection of seven bridges in the city, five of which are over the town branch and two of which are over the east-west rail line.
• The council approved the purchase of a new air compressor for the Vandalia Volunteer Fire Department from Breathing Air Systems of Moweaqua for $19,800.
Gottman told aldermen that he approved an emergency purchase late last week after the VVFD’s 26-year-old compressor stopped working.